Netherlands vs England, Euro 2024: Kane faces Van Dijk; Key match-ups in the crucial semifinal clash

Here are the biggest player battles and key match-ups from the Euro 2024 semifinal clash between Netherlands and England.

Published : Jul 10, 2024 13:30 IST , Chennai - 4 MINS READ

Harry Kane and Virgil van Dijk
Harry Kane and Virgil van Dijk | Photo Credit: REUTERS
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Harry Kane and Virgil van Dijk | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The route to the last four of Euro 2024 has been a rocky one fort the Netherlands and England, and a few flashes of the best quality in their semifinal showdown might be enough for either side to make the final.

England has limped into the last four with tepid performances against opponents it should on paper have beaten easily, while the Netherlands has yo-yoed through and was 20 minutes from elimination before its quarterfinal fightback against Turkey.

The Dutch dazzled in its last-eight rout of Romania but has had to scramble too, having fallen behind in three of its four scoring games. Their three wins were in regulation time, however, compared to one for England, and the Dutch scored nearly double its number of goals at the tournament.

The Netherlands has the edge in attack, with nine goals at Euro 2024 coming from 20 attempts on target against 15 by an England side spearheaded by the usually lethal but currently subdued Harry Kane, Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham

ALSO READ | Stumbling England and Netherlands get shot at redemption

Here are the biggest player battles and key match-ups from the big semifinal clash between Netherlands and England:

HARRY KANE VS VIRGIL VAN DIJK

After coming off a fantastic personal Bundesliga season with Bayern Munich, Harry Kane has failed to find his goalscoring rhythm in the tournament so far. He was subbed off in the second half of extra time in the quarterfinal against Switzerland, with suspicions that he has not fully recovered from a back injury that he sustained during the club season.

In that match, he managed to touch the ball in the penalty box only four times in 109 minutes. Throughout the tournament, he has often dropped deep, failing to reach the end of the crosses out into the box by wingers Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka.

However, with two goals in five matches, he is the team’s joint-top scorer along with Jude Bellingham. Kane will face a tough task extending his tally when he comes up against a familiar opponent in Virgil van Dijk.

Despite letting in five goals in five games, Van Dijk has the most clearances compared to any other player remaining in the tournament. In his squad, he leads the charts for most blocks and also the most aerial duels won.

This is going to be the 11th meeting between the two players, with Kane having an impressive record of six goals in the ten games so far, a record that the Dutch captain will look to worsen when they meet for a spot in the final

CODY GAKPO VS JOHN STONES

Cody Gakpo and John Stones.
Cody Gakpo and John Stones. | Photo Credit: REUTERS
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Cody Gakpo and John Stones. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Cody Gakpo has been one of Netherlands’ biggest positives in the tournament so far. After shifting to his preferred position on the left flank, the Liverpool forward scored three goals and assisted in his side’s five matches so far. He is also the joint top-scorer in the tournament, along with Georges Mikautadze, Jamal Musiala, Ivan Schranz and Dani Olmo.

Tending to stay high up the pitch, he has had eight shots on target in the tournament so far, only behind, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Kai Havertz.

However, in the semifinal, even if manages to occasionally distract and get behind the pacy Kyle Walker at right back, he will come up against centre-back John Stones who has been one of Gareth Southgate’s most trusted players. He leads his squad’s charts in clearance with 13 and has the best success rate in aerial duels among the back line (61.5 per cent).

With Gakpo tending to link up with right-wing back Denzel Dumfries, firing in crosses for one another into the box, Stones will have to have his eyes fixated on the Dutchman, who has had a taste for goals recently.

BUKAYO SAKA VS NATHAN AKE

Bukayo Saka and Nathan Ake.
Bukayo Saka and Nathan Ake. | Photo Credit: REUTERS
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Bukayo Saka and Nathan Ake. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

With Marc Guehi back from suspension, Bukayo Saka will be relieved to return to his right wing position for the clash against Netherlands. After banishing the demons of the Euro 2020 final by scoring from the spot in England’s penalty shootout quarterfinal win against Switzerland, Saka poses a direct attacking threat.

In the match against the Swiss, Saka assumed a right wing-back position and successfully dribbled past midfielder Michel Aebischer four times in the first half, the most one player has beaten another in a single match at this edition of the tournament.

In the same match, he led the charts for the most crosses (9) and the most runs into the final third (25), eventually scoring a wonderful equaliser to take the match into extra time and penalties.

However, he will have to make his runs at Nathan Ake, who has been a pivotal part of this Dutch backline. With the ability to jump from left-back to centre-back at any given time, Ake leads the squad in terms of interceptions with six.

He is also comfortable in terms of pushing up to provide an additional attacking option against low blocks, registering two assists in his nation’s first game against Poland. With his physical strength and commendable pace, Ake will look to make Saka’s life harder down the wing like he has more so often in the Premier League.

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